The corner of 900 West and California Avenue has long reminded Glendale residents of the evil in the world.
It was there in December 1969 that Alfred W. Wesemann, one of the most beloved members of this westside Salt Lake community, was shot and killed as two young men robbed his grocery store.Wesemann's friends, family and community leaders on Saturday dedicated a park in his honor at the same location, a short distance from where he fell. From now on, they hope, the corner will remind people of how Wesemann lived, not how he died.
Alfred W. Wesemann Memorial Park, a small green strip on the northeast corner of the two streets, is just south of the building where Wesemann ran his store for many years. Wesemann's photograph and a written tribute to his life are mounted on a rock in the center of the park.
"It's a visual reminder of the good rather than the bad. People can remember the good rather than this is where Bishop Wesemann was shot," Ruth Smith, one of Wesemann's four children, said before the dedication ceremony. "I think this will bring some happiness or a fit conclusion to his life."
Wesemann, a German immigrant known for his soft voice and big heart, was a longtime bishop for the Cannon 1st Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. At the time of his death at age 65, he was patriarch of the Cannon Stake.
Wesemann was remembered Saturday as a man who cared for all people, regardless of faith, and would help anyone in need, no questions asked. If his assailant had only asked for money instead of taking it, those who knew Wesemann said he gladly would have helped.
"What everybody said is they can just see Bishop Wesemann following this guy out to the street, trying to talk him out of robbing him - not because the money meant anything to him, but because people did," recalled Lorna Lee, 67, a member of the Cannon 1st Ward when Wesemann was bishop.
"Probably, if he'd just let him rob him and go, it wouldn't have been a tragedy. But he always tried to influence everybody to be good. That was just the way he was."
Many of the 225 people who attended Saturday's ceremony at the Glendale Youth Recreation Center still remember what Wesemann did during the flood of 1952.
"He just left the store open and people who needed anything just came and got it," said Barbara Walkenhorst, another of Wesemann's children.
But Wesemann was especially fond of kids, something Salt Lake City Councilwoman Joanne Milner knows for certain. She was one of the many children who frequented Wesemann's Super IGA Market on the way to and from school - sometimes for candy, sometimes to get warm or dry, other times just to see Wesemann's smile and hear his voice.
"One thing we knew was that he loved us," Milner told the gathering. "I think he had a very special heart for the children."
Milner urged those in attendance to let the park serve as a reminder of the need to care for children and help others.
Smith said she expected only about 50 people to attend Saturday. The event attracted so many people that the ceremony had to be moved from the old store building, now occupied by the Deliverance Temple, Church of God in Christ, to the recreation center across California Avenue.
"I am absolutely overwhelmed that my Dad's memory lives in the heart of so many people," said a teary-eyed Smith. "His spirit is here and I think lives on in all of us."
Three of Wesemann's four children attended the ceremony. Many of his 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren also were present.
Plaque of remembrance
Here is the text of the tribute to Alfred W. Wesemann, inscribed on a plaque in Alfred W. Wesemann Memorial Park. It was written by family friend Anne C. White:
Kind, generous, patient. A benevolent German immigrant who opened his arms, and his grocery store, to anyone who had need.
Truly an emissary of God, blessed with an understanding heart, who believed in the literal sense of "Give me your tired, your poor."
Local persons struggled with floods, depression, welfare problems. His wise counsel brought order out of chaos. He was nurtured with a divine gift of love.
Shot through the heart by a robber, his violent death on Dec. 4, 1969, diminished us all forever.